When 23 year old Octavius Boozier moved from Charlotte to Asheville last December with his girlfriend, he was looking for a positive environment, gainful employment, and a place to call home.
An internet search led Octavius to the Green Opportunities website, and he was so eager to be accepted into the Kitchen Ready training program that he filled out not one, but two applications.
When the cycle began, Octavius brought his contagious energy and enthusiasm to the Kitchen Ready classroom. He excelled, and within weeks of enrolling was placed in a part-time job as a dishwasher at The Bull & Beggar, a leading Asheville restaurant. In Octavius’ opinion, “every great chef starts off as a dishwasher. It makes you learn the pace of the restaurant…if you have cooks on the line and we run out of pots and pans, then you need to step up.” He ultimately transitioned from washing dishes to shucking oysters during his time at The Bull & Beggar. The job helped Octavius provide for his family while completing the Kitchen Ready training program.
With the support of GO’s case manager and math instructor, Octavius was also able to study for and pursue his GED. When he sat for his exams, Octavius finished all four tests in record time, and received a scholarship for further study at A-B Tech Community College.
Octavius completed the 15-week Kitchen Ready program in July, and is now working full-time as a line cook at Juicy Lucy’s Burger Bar and Grill, attending classes at A-B Tech, and making time for his family, including a daughter born last month.
“I did a lot of soul searching while thinking about what I wanted to do,” Octavius shares. “GO is a safe haven to find your direction. I love it when I’m in the kitchen. I found my home.”
GO helped Octavius gain the experience, tools, and wrap-around support he needed to overcome his own barriers and secure a job, but more importantly, it helped him find the “home” he’d been searching for.
This month, Octavius was recognized by the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board for Outstanding Achievement in a federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Out-of-School-Youth Program. From receiving that award, to securing a full-time job, he has clearly achieved a great deal this year, and yet he remains humble. Octavius credits the Kitchen Ready program for teaching him not only how to cook, but also important life skills like time management, discipline, and patience, and acknowledges that he’s still got a lot of learning to do.
“No matter how much motivation you have you cannot receive everything at once. A lot of people come into this industry wanting to be the head chef now. They have to work from the ground up. I’m still building. I’m forever building. The learning process never ends. Each and every day I’m learning more.”